NATURAL SWEETENERS

natural sweeteners

To crave sweets every now and then is most definitely our bodies trying to tell us something. Sometimes our glucose levels are low and we need the extra energy to move forward in life, and I’m not saying we should indulge in sweet foods all the time. We actually sometimes need to level out our insulin because so much sugar consumption has us on an insulin crash rollercoaster that must be dealt with. The sugar craving I am referring to is the healthy one, where it is absolutely safe to reach for the fruit basket and enjoy fruit as one of Mother Nature’s biggest gift for us given it’s healing benefits and overall nutrition-packed properties.

The only sugar we are to avoid at all costs and without hesitation are processed, refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup. Any and all processed, refined foods that aren’t served in their wholesome and natural presentation are damaging to our health. Even stevia that claims to be our latest “natural sweetener” is sold in packets as a white powder where, no matter how much one wants to debate its naturalness, there is no food on this planet that comes in white powder form.

Simply put, our bodies are such wonderfully magnificent machines with self-healing powers, that they will work with us to go back to our natural state of health if we cooperate with them. By cooperating I mean feeding our bodies purely natural and organic foods to aid in the regenerative process of our cells. When we consume anything processed, we give our bodies a myriad of extra things to work on before getting down to real business which is to keep our bodies in tip-top shape.

WHAT ABOUT NO-CALORIE SWEETENERS?

When it comes to sweeteners, any and all no-calorie sweeteners have a doubtful reputation given we think they are “safe” to eat when we are trying to lose weight and can’t ignore our sweet tooth, but in reality as soon as our palate tastes sweetness, it automatically tells our brain “sweet alert! tell all hormones to prepare for calorie usage”, and thus our hormones begin the smart process of secreting insulin into our blood to send the perceived glucose to proper use. The only problem is that this insulin won’t find any glucose in the blood because no-calorie sweeteners have no glucose! So only the inevitable will happen: fat cells will come to the rescue to store that insulin in our bodies in the form of fat until given insulin is put to real use. Why? Because insulin can’t just hang out in our blood unused, which is why our fat cells work as a bodyguard for us keeping that insulin at bay so that it doesn’t damage us.

Then comes frustration, right? Because no matter how much Splenda, Truvia, Sweet&Low, Equal, Stevia  In The Raw, Xylitol, NuStevia, or Purevia sweeteners we use in our morning coffee, yogurts, tea, lemonade pitchers,  or pancake mix, we can’t shed the extra pounds! Why? Because the body is an intelligently responsive machine designed for survival, that if you light up New Year’s Eve fireworks next to it, the loud blows will send it to “fight or flight” response and it will release adrenaline and cortisol as if it were about to go into combat, even if it’s not a war and merely a joyful New Year’s Eve party. The same applies to sweeteners. The body can’t discern between real or fake sugar, all it knows is that it’s sweet, and it will release insulin whether it serves you or not.

This is why it’s so imperative to go for the natural sweeteners whenever we need a sweet fix. The best natural sweetener on Earth is, of course, fruit. I sometimes throw a banana in the blender with my morning pancake mix so that I don’t have to sweeten my pancakes with maple syrup, for instance. If you add berries to your yogurt parfait you’ll find you don’t need to stir in a pack of Splenda, either. It’s just a matter of training your taste buds again to enjoy natural levels of sweetness because please remember that a pack of artificial sweetener is always ten times sweeter than natural sugar and this is also why our bodies’ insulin responses are out of whack.

Aside from fruit, if you must add some form of sweetener to your morning cup o’ joe,  go for all natural options like maple syrup, agave syrup (which is a low glycemic sweetener), or even raw honey. These three are sold in its natural form. They go from the maple tree bark, the agave plant and the honeycomb straight to the jars that they are sold in.

AND BROWN SUGAR?

Brown sugar is pure unrefined cane sugar, so yes, it is natural as well, but brown sugar has no real health benefits like raw honey. I’m not saying go overboard with your honey jar like Winnie The Pooh, either. It boils down to this: sugar is sugar is sugar when it comes to insulin secretion. All we have to keep in mind is that the type of sweetener we choose does matter when it comes to harming or supporting our overall health, and raw honey just happens to be the sweetener that acts like a healing medicine as well given its anti fungal, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Brown sugar might have a trace of beneficial minerals, but the amounts are too small to have any real benefits. I will tell you this: if your only two options at any given moment are just brown sugar or splenda, go for brown sugar, at least brown sugar is not highly processed and fake.

A healthy body is one where glucose levels are under control, so the bottom line is you want to keep your sweet cravings at bay and try to eat more fruit, vegetables and lean proteins whenever possible. If you must sweeten that morning latte, go for a natural sweetener and save yourself of free radical wars in your bloodstream (yes, excess sugar in the bloodstream stimulates the generation of free radicals which are the oxygen molecules known to damage cells lining blood vessels and many other organs).

… OH, BUT STARBUCKS DOESN’T HAVE RAW HONEY OPTIONS …

No, Starbucks and airports won’t hand you raw honey packets. Some grocery stores and health food stores sell to-go honey packs. Look for the Manuka Honey or Raw Honey packs and take some with you in your travels, in your purse or portfolio. It’s important to invest in the health of our bodies, too. HEALTH IS EVERYTHING. From now on you should think of your food and beverage as your biggest health insurance investment.

ALSO! Keep in mind that you can train your palate to get used to enjoying coffee with NO SWEETENER, right? Usually the milk that we order our lattes, macchiatos and cappuccinos with is already sweetened to some degree, and that should suffice in making your cup of coffee enjoyable. Try it! You might surprise yourself and acquire this new habit of using less sweetener in your beverages because, truly, sometimes it’s just not needed!

REMEMBER…

Bottom line is the less sweeteners we use overall, the better because even honey, maple syrup and agave syrup should be used rarely to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Organic produce that we are really meant to consume is already naturally sweetened to some extent. Fruit is Nature’s candy and in an ideal world, it should be the only candy we should go for when a craving strikes. Other than that, there are healthy sugars found in wholesome foods such as sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, onions, winter squash, just to name a few. Please keep in mind that the brain and your body in general do need glucose to function properly, just stick to the natural sources and avoid any and all processed, refined sweeteners. Keep honey nearby just for when you REALLY MUST have it, but train your taste buds to enjoy foods and beverages in their natural form instead, without having to add the extra sweetness to them. You’ll not only lose excess body fat but also feel much more energized and alive.

 

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